A factorial analysis of the combined effects of hydrogel fabrication parameters on the in vitro swelling and degradation of oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate) hydrogels
In this study, a full factorial approach was used to investigate the effects of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) molecular weight (MW; 10,000 vs. 35,000 nominal MW), crosslinker-to-macromer carbon–carbon double bond ratio (DBR; 40 vs. 60), crosslinker type (PEG-diacrylate (PEGDA) vs. N,N′-methylene bisacrylamide (MB)), crosslinking extent of incorporated gelatin microparticles (low vs. high), and incubation medium composition (with or without collagenase) on the swelling and degradation characteristics of oligo[(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate)] (OPF) hydrogel composites as indicated by the swelling ratio and the percentage of mass remaining, respectively. Each factor consisted of two levels, which were selected based on previous in vitro and in vivo studies utilizing these hydrogels for various tissue engineering applications. Fractional factorial analyses of the main effects indicated that the mean swelling ratio and the mean percentage of mass remaining of OPF composite hydrogels were significantly affected by every factor. In particular, increasing the PEG chain MW of OPF macromers significantly increased the mean swelling ratio and decreased the mean percentage of mass remaining by 5.7 ± 0.3 and 17.2 ± 0.6%, respectively. However, changing the crosslinker from MB to PEGDA reduced the mean swelling ratio and increased the mean percentage of mass remaining of OPF composite hydrogels by 4.9 ± 0.2 and 9.4 ± 0.9%, respectively. Additionally, it was found that the swelling characteristics of hydrogels fabricated with higher PEG chain MW or with MB were more sensitive to increases in DBR. Collectively, the main and cross effects observed between factors enables informed tuning of the swelling and degradation properties of OPF-based hydrogels for various tissue engineering applications.
fabrication parameters; factorial study; hydrogels; poly(ethylene glycol)-based materials; swelling and degradation